I know this will be controversial, but it has to be said: you don’t need to use a Crockpot for everything. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking slow cookers are amazing by the fact that they’re “hands-off” and easy to use. In fact, most of the time, it’s a waste of energy and electricity and some of those incredible looking foods would be better off made in the oven.
Recipes that are not for the Crockpot include most desserts, such as pies and cakes, and many recipes that require multiple steps. A simple search will provide thousands of recipes that would be easier if you made them in the oven. Some things work better, but mostly, you’re wasting your time.\
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how dare she! But if you really think about it, do you need to cook off those green beans in a pot, and then make a glaze in a pan, and then put them in the Crockpot for four hours? Or are they already good to go? In many cases, a good Dutch oven will do the job just as well and in half the time!
Recipes That Are NOT For the Crockpot
I’m not going to tag any recipes here because I don’t want anyone to think I’m being rude. That’s not my intention at all. There are so many fantastic content creators out there and everything they do is so amazing!
But if you’re really honest, I’m sure you’ll agree that some of those recipes are definitely not for the Crockpot.
Do you need to make a crustless pumpkin pie in the slow cooker? Lining the thing with foil, so it doesn’t stick and then ruining it when you lift it out as it bends and turns to mush? I don’t think so.
Recipes that are not for the Crockpot include cakes and pies, which will be dense and likely ruin as you try to lift them out. Also, anything that requires multiple pots before you get to the slow cooker, such as green beans that are ready in minutes on the stovetop anyway.
Slow cooker recipes are supposed to be dump and go.
For example: Did you know that you don’t need to brown your beef/pork when making chili? It’s true! Just add it all in and mix so that it breaks up. The meat will cook as the pot heats up - just don’t forget to go back and mix it every now and then.
Nice and easy! Right?
So then, why would you want to make French Onion Soup in the Crockpot if you need to cook the onions for 9 hours!? Yes, 9 hours. Instead of just babysitting them on the stove top for an hour.
Oh, and then you have to cook it for another hour with the broth.
Or how about a “simple appetizer” made with cocktail sausages and BBQ sauce. This recipe calls for pre-cooked sausages to be cooked in the Crockpot for 2 hours. Why? It would be done on the stovetop in maybe 20 minutes.
In general, if a slow cooker recipe asks you to pre-boil something AND make a glaze on the side AND soften your onions AND brown the meat AND make a roux on the stove…well, you’ve more or less made the thing by that point, right? So why would you then want to put it in the slow cooker to cook for four hours?
Recipes that you shouldn’t cook in the Crockpot include:
- Casseroles that involve pre-made soups or other ready-cooked ingredients - they’re already cooked and will be faster in the oven!
- Broth-based soups that don’t need to be thick
- Anything that requires a crunchy/crisp top
Why You Should Never Bake Cakes In the Slow Cooker
Baking cakes is such a fun thing to do, and if you like baking, chances are, you want to see your cakes come out pretty and have some fun decorating them.
You should never bake cakes in the slow cooker because though they will be moist, they will likely be very dense. Not only that, they’ll come out the shape of your slow cooker - which is typically oval - and will have uneven edges from the parchment paper you tried to smooth against the sides.
Add to that the fact that they’ll squash and ruin as you try to lift them out - well, they’re not the prettiest. Also, you can’t make two cakes at once - unless you have two slow cookers.
They Will be Dense
As mentioned above, slow cooker cakes will be moist but will also be quite dense. When you bake a cake in the oven, the heat encourages the rise, and if you watch them, you’ll see them rise as the air expands and the rising agents do their job.
This isn’t possible in a slow cooker because the heat is not high or intense enough. You will probably see some rise, but nothing like you get from the oven.
They Take Too Long
Most cakes will take about 30 minutes to an hour in the oven. So why would you want to make up a batter only to have to wait four hours for it to cook in the Crockpot?
Because the temperature is so low, you’ll either have to have quite a thin cake or get ready early if you expect to serve it on the same day.
They Don’t Have a Crust
On certain cakes, like banana bread, you want to get some kind of a crust. I’m not talking about a thick, dry layer on top, but something to help hold your slice together when you cut into it.
When you make things in the slow cooker, a lot of moisture is released - and it’s got nowhere to go! It will rise, hit the lid, and fall right back on top. Sure, it keeps it moist, but it can also turn out soggy and unpleasant.
Do Vegetables Need to Cook for Six Hours?
No, vegetables don’t need to cook for six hours. Unless we’re talking about potatoes and, maybe, squash, your veggies don’t need to cook for hours on end. For the most part, your veggies will roast to perfection in under an hour, so why waste hours using a slow cooker?
There are so many side dish recipes out there calling for you to cook your veggies in the slow cooker for a “super simple side.” Unfortunately, it usually just leads to bland, rubbery, overcooked vegetables that would’ve been better off roasted in the oven.
If you find a green been recipe calling for you to soften your onions and garlic and then saute the green beans until tender…why would you then put them in the slow cooker? They’re already done!
Recipes That Are Perfect For Slow Cookers
So, yes, I accept that there are recipes that work so much better in the Crockpot. It was invented for a reason, and I do own one and use it often!
Recipes that are perfect for slow cookers include chilis, soups, and stews, which all benefit from the gentle heat and the long cooking times. Other recipes like scalloped potatoes and pasta bakes are also great to make in the slow cooker when you just add everything to the pot and walk away.
Most of the time, you don’t need to worry about anything burning when using your Crockpot, and with chilis, the longer cook time gives it longer for all the ingredients to marry.
Of course, I’m a big fan of slow cooking meat in my Crockpot. From ribs and pulled pork to braised beef, the low and slow cook in the Crockpot is so much easier than having the oven on all day!
Below are some great recipes that come out perfect every time!
Crockpot White Chicken Chili
This recipe is made completely in the slow cooker, including cooking the raw chicken. It’s a fantastic recipe that will give you a thick and creamy chicken chili with just the right amount of heat!
Slow Cooker Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
When it comes to scalloped potatoes, it’s not uncommon to see the edges turning brown - or even burning - while the middle is still not cooked.
Using a slow cooker is a great way to get nice even heat throughout and to ensure all the potatoes are perfectly tender, without the top burning.
Creamy Crockpot Mac and Cheese
Making mac and cheese in your slow cooker makes sense because it saves you from cooking the pasta separately and makes it extra creamy.
Not only that, but you will usually see this ready to go in about an hour - so you’re not waiting all day.